Katarina Elevator – Stockholm, Sweden - Atlas Obscura

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Katarina Elevator

This gem from the industrial age helps visitors and residents alike traverse hilly Stockholm. 


Stockholm is not a flat city, so much so that you can easily get lost just trying to go to the next street, looking for hidden staircases and steep ramps.

Some attempts have been made to remedy this in the busier parts of town, the most iconic example being the Katarina Elevator, or Katarinahissen, a gigantic metal construction towering over passersby at Slussen, providing a much-appreciated shortcut between Katarinavägen and Mosebacke Torg.

The original lift construction dates from 1881, at which time it was an extremely modern way of traveling. Initially, it was powered by a giant steam engine, but was upgraded to an electric motor in 1915. Sporting the modernistic name “Elevatorn,” the elevator drew many curious visitors. Roughly 1,500 people a day came to see the mechanical wonder during the first month of its opening, making the city a lot of money since a trip up or down cost 5 öre (about 2 dollars). 

The bridge to the elevator was seen as extremely valuable advertising real estate from the beginning, sporting ads for furs and other commodities. It was also the original location of the iconic animated Stomatol Toothpaste sign before it was moved to its current location. 

Over the years, the Katarinahissen construction became too weak to be used safely and eventually was demolished and replaced by the current lift, which resumed its operation in much the same way as before.

Update as of July 2021: The building that the elevator is attached to is currently undergoing renovations and is currently not accessible. 

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